Digital Friday: Pluto TV Gives You Free, Indie TV 24/7

Free Resources, Links, and Web-Based Deals for Budget ShoppingThis day has been a long time coming. Ever since Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime started disrupting the cable industry, it’s been on its way. Right now, competition in online streaming media is getting steeper and steeper every day. Prestigious media has been highly accessible for such low prices that free online television was inevitable. Now, Pluto TV has given that to us, and – you guys… this is real.

At some point, every YouTube lover has wished there was a way to watch YouTube videos in a television format. Grouping similar channels into, well, channels and having a constant stream of new content to explore would be a dream come true.

Well, replace the YouTube channels with independent (and a few major) television networks, and you’ve got Pluto TV.

Pluto TV is available on pretty much every device: phones, tablets, smart TVs… You know what, here’s an actual list of devices that support Pluto TV:

  • Roku
  • Amazon Fire
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Android
  • iPhone
  • Android TV
  • Samsung
  • VIZIO TV
  • SONY
  • The Web
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Xbox Live

I couldn’t find it on my Xbox One, personally, but I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time.

It’s set up just like real cable television, with a TV guide, themed channels, and showtimes. There are a few major networks involved like NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, but for the most part, the Pluto TV family is made up of indie networks. Pluto does you a favor, though, and groups similar channels together for seamless surfing. And because Pluto crosses so many platforms, you can control everything from whatever device you’re currently using, wherever you are.

The Channels of Pluto TV

While I’m calling these “independent networks,” what Pluto TV actually has is: internet channels. What other medium would accommodate a daily show featuring Wil Wheaton playing tabletop games with comedians and celebrities?

As you scroll through the 100+ channels in Pluto TV’s guide, many of the many (I mean many) are brands that started out as internet companies or even blogs. Let’s all take a moment to think about how badass a Broke & Beautiful channel would be before we move on. Okay.

This is a haven for people who love internet video content. And if you think you’re not one of those people, I hope you’re up-to-date because the internet is magical. I’d rather watch YouTube over cable television 85% of the time. And that’s not just because Pluto added a channel with 24/7 cat videos on it (though it did play a role in my decision).

But Pluto is more than YouTube could ever dream to be (thanks to vicious copyright lawsuits). By partnering with cable networks and – get this – other streaming services (*cough*Hulu*cough*), Pluto TV gets access to tons of content. They have over 75 content partners that help them fill their channels with delicious nonsense. The abundance of great media has also inspired them to start offering video on demand.

Pluto TV also just announced new partnerships including content from Lionsgate, Warner Bros., MGM, CNBC, Great Big Story, Hearst Entertainment, Al Jazeera Entertainment, The Orchard, Defy Media, Machinima, Studio71, Tastemade, and others. These are in addition to content deals already in place with providers such as Paramount Pictures, Fremantle, Endemol Shine International, Yahoo!, CNBC, Cheddar, and Mashable. (corporate.pluto.tv)

Video on demand doesn’t seem to be available everywhere – in fact, I’ve only been able to find it on iOS and on my Kindle Fire. I haven’t checked the apps on Android, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, or Apple TV. Those may or may not have video on-demand. I tried to ask Pluto TV’s PR about this, but didn’t get any solid answers. Currently waiting on their support team to get back to me, and I will update here!

You’ll find incredibly popular online communities represented in Pluto’s channel family. Nerdist, Clevver, Geek & Sundry – even POPSUGAR has their own channel! As far as I can tell, Pluto caters to people who grew up during the internet’s prime-time. But that’s not to say that there isn’t something for everyone!

Speaking of comedy, Pluto does indie comedy a huge solid by offering an entire section dedicated to laughs. Included are brilliant co-ops like JASH, a network founded by Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts, and the collectively bizarre Tim & Eric. The comedy channels run comedy shorts, stand-up specials, and a few regular, original features.

Alongside a plethora of comedy channels, you’ll find an entire set of channels devoted to anime, a load of sports channels featuring everything from women’s college soccer to major football games, lifestyle channels with interviews, fashion trends, and reality features – and about a zillion news channels.

Here’s an abbreviated list of indie content networks on Pluto TV:

Of the 100+ channels in Pluto TV’s world, here are some of the most noteworthy:

  • Cats 24/7
  • Geek & Sundry
  • Nerdist
  • Cracked
  • The Onion
  • POPSUGAR
  • PeopleTV
  • Science TV
  • NASA TV
  • IGN
  • Clevver
  • Tastemade
  • Adventure TV
  • The Young Turks
  • Cheddar
  • THC
  • FunnyAF
  • MST3K
  • Frontdoor TV
  • Food TV
  • Classic Cartoons

Or, just view the full channel guide (click to enlarge):

Pluto also has the requisite bizarre music channels that lurk at the end of the dial with channel numbers in the 900s. And, if you’re feeling frisky, check out the absolute softest softcore sexy dancing girls on the Eye Candy channel. Hey man, you gotta take the good weird with the bad weird.

Pluto TV Sounds Like a Stream Come True! But… Are There Ads?

I know, right? The only thing that could ruin all of this free content, viewed in an organized, updated format and that is advertisements. So are there any ads on Pluto TV?

You bet there are. There are ads that are commercial-length, and they repeat, and they are spaced out just like the cable commercials you love to loathe. The difference is that you aren’t paying a single dime to be marketed to. You’re being marketed to so Pluto can keep giving you something for free – so why shouldn’t they? They deserve to be profitable, they’re revolutionizing how we consume video media!

Where Did This Witchcraft Come From?!

I know, right? How has Pluto TV been around since 2014, and we’re just now discovering how incredibly badass it is?

Well, when you’re a little startup with a great idea, it really helps if you can snipe an major player from a similar industry, and that’s exactly what Pluto TV did in early 2016 when they brought an ex-Spotify exec on board. Something else that really, really helps: gigantic sums of money. Late last year, Pluto TV secured $30 million in funding from international investors. Combine those assets with the onslaught of people ditching their cable subscription and you’ve got yourself a thriving business!

Currently, it doesn’t seem as though there are any plans to introduce a payment requirement (or even option) at Pluto TV. They’re adding channels almost weekly at this point, and are changing their content seasonally. Right now, they’re loaded with Halloween movies that play on the various movie channels. Check it out on your lunch break, you’ll be shocked that it isn’t asking for your money!

Have you ever tried Pluto TV? What did you think? Do you still use it?